January 01, 2017

Give Thanks—in Winter! by Sandi Somers

January can be depressing. We may have financial or emotional hangovers because the holiday excitement is over. Our Christmas bills come in. Our homes feel empty after family and friends leave. Or we feel hollow if a loved one has recently passed away. We can be frustrated with the cold temperatures, bundling up to even step outside. We yearn for longer, warmer days to cheer us.

How can we be thankful followers of Christ in winter? How can our thankful hearts and attitudes change our perspective and encourage others?

My Winter Journal of Thankfulness

It was a winter of the Arctic vortex on steroids.

Several years ago, snow fell in October—and stayed. That winter was long and cold, and the Southern Alberta Chinooks seldom came. Snow continued to pile up until April’s thaw melted it.

To counter my twinges of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) that winter, I journaled about God’s many footprints. Snow sparkling in the sunlight like so many diamonds. Tiny deer tracks in fresh snow up our cul-de-sac. The golden cloud in early morning sunlight, until the wind of the cold front and snow blew in and blotted out the sun.

What that winter felt like!!
My journal recorded not only the joyous moments. Several times I wrote about “difficult thanks”; on frigid blustery days I recognized God’s sovereignty over His creation and the winter season. On those days I was particularly thankful for a warm house, adequate winter clothes, a car that worked in the cold, and city workers who plowed out our streets.

Unfortunately I didn’t continue recording moments of thankfulness.

…until this last summer.

At a ladies’ retreat, our guest speaker, Heidi McLaughlin, shared entries from her “Journal of Thanks”. She was thankful for items even as small as her bed’s soft sheets. Heidi inspired me to again journal several things each day for which I was thankful.

I didn’t realize how this practice changed my writing until I reread my 2016 journal.

It was a real eye-opener!

Normally I keep this journal for daily time with God and how He is speaking to me about my concerns. But when I began adding daily thanks items (including “difficult thanks”), the tone of my writing changed to one of gratitude for friends, family, unique experiences, His Word, and for God Himself.

Thanks and praise had lifted my writing to a higher plane. I began to include more thankfulness and praise in my regular entries.

As I meditated on this month’s theme, I realized the great potential for being thankful. If it were possible, we could thank God for something in each moment of the day.

We could be like Brother Lawrence, whose duty was to wash pots and pans in a Carmelite Monastery. Daily he practiced the presence of God and let love transform everything he did.

What does thankfulness do?

Thankfulness, along with prayer and petition, is the antidote to our worry and anxiety (Philippians 4:6).

Thankfulness takes our focus off ourselves and opens us to worship our Creator, Saviour and Lord.

Thankfulness gives our writing a fuller message so that our readers can meet God in new ways.

A Chinese pastor developed a daily habit of thankfulness while in prison. He encouraged us:

"Every morning when you wake up, don't get up; just stay in bed and for ten minutes thank God for anything that comes into your mind. It might be the wallpaper, it might be for friends, it might just be for life. Anything. Once you get going you discover that the world is full of grace, God's grace. With that attitude you are ready to live the day for God, because you are overwhelmed at how generous God is to you."

Now it’s your turn. Take your notebook, a cappuccino or hot chocolate and curl up in your favourite chair or sofa. Write about what you’re thankful for this winter, in many areas of your life and writing. What does your thankfulness tell you? How will thankfulness open you to new ways God is speaking to you about your faith and writing this year?



  1. As usual you started us off right, Sandi! (Or is that 'write'?) Your post goes especially well with today's devotional from Our Daily Bread. In it they talked about starting a jar of thanks for the year and every day writing at least one thing you are thankful for. Even on bad days there are things to thank God for and at the end of the year when you read them you will be surprised at how good God is! I am thankful for YOU and your faithfulness and fine example! Blessings this year, my friend!

    1. Thanks for your encouragement, Tracy! Just now I saw this "thankful jar"on Facebook. It's a great idea. Our sermon this morning talked about being thankful because God is so faithful!

    2. Must be a theme! God is trying to tell us something!

    3. I often find that when God has something important to tell us, He brings it to mind from several different angles. And so God is reminding me of the importance of remembering all He has done for me--and all of us.

      This is an excellent example of God's Connecting Points--how He intervenes in "coincidental" ways. It's a topic we'll be writing about in our September blogs. Stay tuned!

  2. Thanks, Sandi, for starting us out on a thankful note. I appreciate and understand your mentioning "difficult thanks," as well. This week I had many things to be thankful for, but I also had a few time-consuming interruptions to deal with that could fall in that category of "difficult thanks".

    I thought I had written myself a reminder to start the New Year with a "Giving Thanks" Jar. Thanks for the reminder, Tracy. Done!

    1. Thanks Sharon, for speaking of "difficult thanks". I have found that in thanking God when something difficult happens (to me or to a loved one), God expands the horizons of my inner vision. One of my devotional readings yesterday came from David Wilkerson (Teen Challenge): "It is absolutely imperative that we believe God delights in us. Then we will be able to accept that every circumstance in our lives will eventually prove to be our Father's loving will for us. And He will bring joy out of our struggle."

      God bless you, Sharon, as you give thanks in difficult circumstances.

  3. Thanks, Sandi, for being thankful and passing it on! I think that is what happens when one thankful soul stands up it turns someone else's grumblings into gratitude and then the trickle begins. Happy New Year and thanks for this!

    1. Thanks for your encouragement, Glynis. I just now read in my Our Daily Bread this sentence: "When the holidays are past and we head back to life's everyday routines, we still have Someone to celebrate." Worshipping God transforms our experiences.


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